Longleat Safari and Adventure Park has been voted best large visitor attraction in the South West at the prestigious annual South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

The awards were presented at a ceremony in Plymouth, hosted by ITV News West Country presenter Ian Axton.

The judges said that at Longleat “every element of the attraction is presented well, by a team who are both experts in the field but also looking to ensure a great visit”.

The Wiltshire attraction faced tough competition from across the South West including the Eden Project in Cornwall.

Ceawlin Thynn, Longleat chairman, said: “It’s a fantastic achievement and demonstrates the hard work, commitment and enthusiasm off all our staff.

“We were up against some really tough opposition and to claim the title in a year when they received a record number of entries is particularly pleasing.

“Our aim now is to continue to develop and improve our visitor experience in 2014 and beyond.”

Nearly 350 entries across 16 categories were considered for the awards, with all entrants undergoing a rigorous short-listing process and 213 going on to be visited by a team of 35 mystery shoppers.

Alistair Handyside, who chaired the judging panel, said: “This year we have had the most entries ever and the most challenging judging, the list of finalists really does look like a who’s who of the best in the South West.

“Once again the entrants have surpassed themselves in showing that investment, innovation and creativity remain at the heart of the visitor economy in the region.” 

Longleat will now go on to represent the region at the National Enjoy England Awards for Excellence in May.